Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Time: Sleep

Sleep, sweet sweet sleep.  How many people would say they get their perfect amount?  I'm guessing not many.  We've gone through many stages in our sleep habits in our 10 years of marriage.  From the late nights and sleeping in on weekends in our newlywed, early 20s days to the early days of parenting when 6 solid hours was just a dream.  Do we have it all figured out?  No.  Not at all.  I'd actually say this is one of the time related things we struggle with the most but we have made improvements, largely thanks to a little guy that doesn't always understand that weekends are for sleeping in!  Ahhh...parenthood.

We aren't all fancy with the fitbits to track our actual sleep, but the occasional tossing and turning aside, I'd estimate that we average about at least 7-7.5 hours a night during the week and closer to 8 on the weekends.  Which is more than we were getting when I worked.  And more than we were getting when Luke was a newborn, definitely!  There are going to be stages of life when sleep just isn't going to happen.  As any parent of a newborn knows, your own sleep isn't necessarily a high priority (although Luke started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks after being the NICU the first 2 of those anyways...I fully expect our next kid to take about 2 years to sleep a solid 8 hours.)  Those stages, which do pass!, aside, most of us should be getting our sleep.

If you feel you are too busy to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep most nights, then you probably need to rethink your priorities.  In her books, Laura Vanderkam frequently does the math that with 168 hours in a week, working for 40 and sleeping for 56 (7 days x 8 hours), that still leaves you 72 hours for other things.  Like everything, fitting it in is usually the problem.  It's not having the time, because the vast majority of us should be able to sleep 7-9 hours a night, but making it the priority it should be.

It's usually about 9pm, when I should start winding down from the day, that I get a sudden burst of energy and inspiration and want to finish ALL. THE. THINGS.  (It's 9:18pm as I write this.)  I don't know if it's just feeling like I didn't get enough done during the day or thinking I have time to squeeze in one more things or it's just stalling going to bed...but it seems like it should be much easier to let the day go and just go to bed.  Sleep is wonderful!  Who doesn't daydream about a good night sleep?  Who didn't enjoy many naps in college when there were maybe fewer demands on your time (I remember many wonderful naps in college, probably the most nap filled time of my life!).

I think figuring out sleep is key to making the most of our waking hours.  If I got to bed at the right time it would be easier to get up in the morning.  If it was easier to get up in the mornings then I wouldn't putter around for 20 minutes before doing my workout.  If I didn't putter around I'd be done working out sooner which means moving on with my day sooner, frequently giving me more time before Luke wakes up for reading or blogging.  I'd be less likely to be running late to work (where they don't care what time I get in as long as I get my hours in) or get an earlier start on errands or just have more relaxed mornings!  More sleep could mean more energy to get things done during the day and more energy at night without feeling like I'm dragging and putting off sleep...which starts the whole cycle all over again.

Like I said, we have gotten much better about it compared to our younger days (I rarely see midnight on the clock anymore for one thing).  A few things to make the transition to sleep easier:

1) Getting ready for bed earlier in the evening
We switch off on giving Luke baths every night.  On my nights I frequently wash my face and brush my teeth while supervising his bath playtime.  This way when it's time to actually go to bed all I have to do is use the bathroom and change (if I'm not already wearing my PJs...I know I'm not the only one who does that!).

2) Expecting to accomplish less during each day
This is something I'm really trying.  Give myself the few big things that I would really like to get done each day and then being satisfied as long as those things happen, not expecting to cram in 5 more.  It's that "I have time for this and this and this" that can really keep me from just going to bed.

3) Bedtimes
If you are a parent your kids probably have one.  Luke does and we're pretty strict about it during the week (he's gotten a lot of leeway on the weekends this summer with lake trips, drive-in and everything else that goes on).  We try to do the same for ourselves.  Bed at 10:45 and lights out at 11:15.  I often have to force myself to put down my book  because I know I'll feel so much better for it in the morning, even staying up another 15 minutes can make me grouchy.

Realizing how much better we feel with our 7-8 hours every night has really helped us get to bed earlier in the last few years.  We're certainly doing better as we age but still could do much much better.  How do you prioritize sleep in your life?  Do you feel you get enough?  Are you one of those people who jump out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off or are you a snooze hitter?  (We're definitely the latter but I wish I was the former!).  I'll take any and all sleep hints and tips I can get!!

Additional reading at Mama Loves Coffee: The Motherly Art of Rest.  

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